Duo of local Teenagers prepare for massive open water swims for charity

Two local Hawkesbury teenagers have set themselves the amazing goal of swimming the English Channel and the Gibralter and Tsugaru Strait in 2021 to raise awareness of youth mental health.

Sam Bonus is 15-years-old and will be swimming the Channel, while 17-year-old Michael Payne will swim the Strait.

Training: Sam and Michael have continued their training to swim the Enlgish Channel and Gibralter and Tsugaru Strait in 2021. Picture: Supplied.

Training: Sam and Michael have continued their training to swim the Enlgish Channel and Gibralter and Tsugaru Strait in 2021. Picture: Supplied.

What began as both boys competing in Open Water Ocean Swimming soon grew into the idea of setting a big goal and just going for it.

They recently were a Rottnest Channel Duo Team 2020 and placed fourth out of more than 80 teams in their category.

Michael had previously swum the English Channel in a trio with his father Steve and family friend Geoff.

Sam Bonus is a One Giant Leap Australia Foundation Ambassador and captain of the Windsor Swim Club.

"Going to Space Camp made me realise that that the opportunities in life are what you make them", Sam said.

Once the concept of doing the English Channel swim started to take shape, Sam and Michael thought it might help if they could role model what could happen if everyone supports each other.

They also believe that young people need to see others in their community achieving goals.

Preparing: Michael Payne just before he hits the water for his Rottnest Channel Swim with Sam. Picture: Supplied.

Preparing: Michael Payne just before he hits the water for his Rottnest Channel Swim with Sam. Picture: Supplied.

"We know we must train hard and be in a mentally good head-space to achieve our goal," said Michael.

"We are lucky to have our friends and family to support us.

"Many people don't have that and with the bushfires and COVID-19, Sam and I have talked about what a difference we could make if we were to achieve something that seems to be impossible."

The boys want to give hope during these challenging times, reminding people that it is now more than ever, important to chase your dreams.

They want to inspire kids who are starting to swim, give them a reason to keep swimming, to stay motivated and train, and to remain persistent.

Both of the families have dealt with loss and mental illness. The English Channel swim began as a challenge but now it means far more than that.

Emerging: Sam Bonus coming out of the water during the Rottnest Channel Swim 2020 wher ehe competed in a duo with Michael. Picture: Supplied.

Emerging: Sam Bonus coming out of the water during the Rottnest Channel Swim 2020 wher ehe competed in a duo with Michael. Picture: Supplied.

"As a community, we have suffered through drought, floods, fires and COVID-19," said Sam's mum Ash.

"We are hearing on the news of an increase in suicide rates in Australia of up to 50% and the boys want to do something about it.

"They want to be role models for others in our community to show that we can achieve things together if we support each other."

Michael mum, Jenni said, "COVID-19 has had many effects on our community. Let's make it a positive impact on the project and the Hawkesbury. The true Aussie spirit - let's look after our mates and support the boys to achieve the goal they have set and be great role models in the fight for mental health in our community".

The duo are looking for some support as they continue their training for next year.

If people in the community would like send in donations or sponsor the duo they can contact Ash Harrison on 0400796994 or ashlindblad@gmail.com, and head over to their Instagram page, @hawkesburyopenwaterswimmers.

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